Induction: Lesnar vs. Orton – The feud that broke all the rules (even the good ones)!

16 Submitted by on Fri, 11 June 2021, 20:00

WWE, 2016

Word on the street is that WWE is trying to make this year’s Summerslam on par with Wrestlemania to celebrate the promotion’s triumphant return to live events.

Back in 2016, WWE announced Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton to celebrate The Beast Incarnate’s triumphant semi-annual return to the ring.

WWE clearly felt that the novelty of the match alone would draw viewers to the event, as the two OVW Class of 2002 graduates had never wrestled in each other in any high-profile match. The two did wrestle once on TV in their rookie year, but that match isn’t on Peacock yet, and even if it were, you would never, ever be able to find it, so for simplicity’s sake, let’s just say that this was the first time they had ever wrestled.

Immediately, the match was mired in controversy, as Lesnar was found to have failed two drug tests before his latest UFC fight, testing positive for masking agents used to hide steroid use. The Nevada State Athletic Commission took swift action, vacating his victory against Mark Hunt and fining him $250,000. The US Anti-Doping Agency suspended him for a year. And WWE…

…told TMZ via a spokesperson that Lesnar would not face any consequences at all. No fine, no suspension, not even a “Wellness strike”.

(Can’t figure out why WWE didn’t tout this news story like they do every other time they get mainstream press)

See, Lesnar was only a part-time WWE performer and thus was exempt from the Wellness Policy. Obviously, this exception could have set a bad precedent for other part-time performers.

Imagine if The Rock or Triple H showed up to a big event, juiced to the gills?

At least the controversy created a buzz, which Randy Orton only furthered when he bragged that he could beat Brock with one RKO, “no enhancement needed”. Not anymore, anyway.

(I don’t mean to sully Rock316AE’s good name, but I don’t know how official this is)

Given how rarely Brock Lesnar appeared on TV, WWE could have easily “suspended” him for 30 days and no one would have noticed, but instead he showed up on Raw with Paul Heyman.

Randy crashed this segment by RKOing Brock, in the process (in Michael Cole’s words) signing his death wish.

Going into the match, Brock made clear that he and Randy had nothing in common, other than having trained in WWE developmental at the same time, and having benefited from some creative enforcement of the Wellness Policy. Orton simply wasn’t in Brock’s league.

Randy, on the other hand, used to think highly of Lesnar, but lost respect for him when Brock dropped everything and quit WWE. How dishonorable.

And while Brock might take him to Suplex City, Randy would send him straight to somewhere called “Viperville”, a place no one has mentioned since, and which I can’t find on any maps.

Perhaps he meant “Vaperville”

The match closed out Summerslam…

…and played out exactly as expected. Like this:

Randy Orton then took down Brock with an RKO and tried to pin him, which, as everyone watching knew, did not work. 

Then, after Orton kicked out of an F5, Brock got mad and basically said the gloves were off.

Brock doesn’t do metaphors

Lesnar proceeded to pound Orton with his fists, then caught him on his hairline with elbow strikes…

…busting the Viper wide open. And this was the planned finish.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, Doesn’t WWE have a no-blood policy? Well, not quite. They have a no blading policy. Razor blades are barbaric, but accidents do happen…

…and so does splitting a wrestler’s wig on purpose.

I mean, would you let a surgeon cut you with a scalpel instead of just opening you up with his bare hands?

WWE doctors rushed in and, after an unnecessarily long wait…

…gave Brock a surprise urine test, this being their only chance to ensure the WWE part-timer was drug-free. 

Kidding! They stopped the match. The only thing “pissed” was the crowd, who reacted to this mediocre main event with chants of “Goldberg!”

And sure enough, who should step into the ring but…

…Shane McMahon…

…whom Lesnar F5’ed to close the show.

The next night, Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon addressed the attack on her brother, with whom she was feuding at the time, promising “repercussions”. If she had also promised a bewildering television segment for the following week, she would have at least been half-right.

See, the next Monday night, Stephanie McMahon sought justice for her beloved brother. Sure, lots of people speculated that she, a conniving heel, wasn’t being sincere, but she put those rumors to rest with this deliberately insincere denial.

But then came Paul Heyman, interrupting Stephanie, at which point she shifted right into no-nonsense girlboss mode.

“I’m not here to indulge you, you’re here to indulge me. Now get in this ring and apologize.”

“Madam McMahon – ”

“Don’t call me Madam!” Stephanie snapped. 

Contrite, Heyman humbly announced that he was there to pay Brock Lesnar’s fine – a “most reasonable fine” – of $500.

$500, incidentally, was the square root of Lesnar’s 250k UFC fine

So Stephanie really was only feigning concern over her brother.

But then Paul Heyman pulled out a stack of five hundred $1 bills to pay said fine and began counting them off one by one. This set off Stephanie McMahon, who wouldn’t tolerate Heyman paying off her sarcastic fine sarcastically.

McMahon slapped the money out of hand and told him that he provides no value to WWE, then invoked his children while threatening to fire him.

By the way, isn’t Heyman supposed to work for Lesnar, not WWE?

Stephanie demanded respect – respect for herself, respect for the three-figure fine she levied, etc. – and would stoop to any depth to avenge her brother, whom she had ousted from WWE ever since he returned and would resume wanting ousted from WWE immediately after this segment.

There’s a storm coming, and it is coming your ugly way!”

At this moment, millions of viewers at home panicked at the thought of a Shane McMahon-Brock Lesnar match.

Paul Heyman then delivered a comeback that was defiant and ass-kissing all at once, claiming that it was Stephanie, not Shane, who deserved an apology. After all, Brock put Stephanie in a compromising position with the all-important Board of Directors (whom WWE really, really thinks viewers care about).

While Heyman tried to ingratiate himself to McMahon, he made the mistake of referencing a “female empowerment movement”, which Stephanie randomly took exception to. No, it was a Women’s Revolution™, and Heyman was staring it right in the face. Literally, of course, he was staring Stephanie McMahon right in the face, implying that Stephanie McMahon *was* the Women’s Revolution.

And she was certainly responsible for it, in much the same way that King George III was responsible for the American Revolution

Heyman proceeded to effusively praise Stephanie as the rightful and deserving sole heir to the WWE boardroom and McMahon fortune, blah blah blah, and asked that she accept Brock Lesnar’s apology and $500.

So what did Stephanie McMahon do?

Did she bump up Lesnar’s fine to, say, five hundred *thousand* dollars? 

Did she demand that Brock Lesnar show up in person?

No, she instead accepted Pauls apology to Stephanie over what Brock did to Shane. Get all that?

And, as Heyman’s lemon face indicated, he wasn’t even sincere.

The whole segment felt more like two or three completely unrelated promos mangled and mashed together. By the time Raw viewers were done scratching their heads, they looked like poor Randy Orton.

And speaking of Randy…

In WWE’s effort to feature blood in a match while skirting its own no-blading rules, Orton had predictably suffered a concussion. This was never acknowledged on TV, however.

Instead, Randy went right back onto TV the next Tuesday and cut a promo while whacked out of his gourd. 

He immediately began a feud with Bray Wyatt, leading to an advertised match just a few weeks later at Backlash – a match WWE knew Randy wouldn’t be cleared to compete in.

Instead, Randy was “injured” by Wyatt the night of the Pay-Per-View, forfeiting the match…

…before delivering an RKO later that night.

WWE made a lot of changes in the mid to late 00s: 

  • A Wellness Policy including steroid tests, in response to Eddie Guerrero’s untimely death in 2005
  • A new concussion protocol, in response to the Benoit tragedy of 2007
  • A ban on blading, in response to going “TV-PG” in 2008

And Brock Lesnar somehow managed to make a mockery of all of them in a single program.

Written by

A wrestling fan ever since the days of Wrestlemania IX, Art graduated from college in the same building where Art Donovan called King of the Ring 1994. He also runs the "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog, where he reviews New Generation-Era Monday Night Raws. Follow him on Twitter @Art0Donnell. Email at: art@wrestlecrap.com
16 Responses to "Induction: Lesnar vs. Orton – The feud that broke all the rules (even the good ones)!"
  1. Stu says:

    Looking forward to the next one.

  2. Rogers says:

    What happened to Orton in the military? I didn’t get it.

    • Brownie_the_3rd says:

      Orton got kicked out of the military for going AWOL multiple times.

    • Jay says:

      Orton only spent one year in the Marines before receiving a bad conduct discharge after 2 AWOLs and disobeying an order.

      Hence the emphasis on dishonorable.

    • Autrach Sejanoz says:

      To quote the man himself: “Boot camp was great, I got a meritorious promotion, came out on private first class, went to school of infantry, was an 0311, was in a boat company Alpha 1-4 in Camp Horno in Camp Pendleton. Did great there, got to the fleet, and then it was restart; bootcamp. It was the opposite of how a locker room should be, where everyone has each other’s back. I said, this ain’t for me. I went AWOL for 83 days, came back, turned myself in and thought they’d give me my release papers. They said, ‘Nah, you signed a contract with Uncle Sam, son. Grab your rifle and go to the field.’ I sat on my hands and said I wasn’t going anywhere. They brought me to the platoon commander and I disobeyed a direct order to return to the field. I got a bad conduct discharge and it took 45 days in the brig before I went home.”

  3. Si says:

    This has reminded me that around mid-2016 Stephanie started referring to herself as having “lady balls”, which it was then announced was the title of her upcoming autobiography, but WWE then couldn’t trademark the phrase so the title was changed, and then the book never came out.

  4. Hulk6785 says:

    This match really pissed me the fuck off. I don’t understand how this company could be stupid enough to think one man punching another man so hard that he busts open and bleeds is safer than blading. Also, they didn’t tell most of their employees about the finish, which led to Chris Jericho to think it was real and confront Brock Lesnar over it. They almost got into a fight over it, which all could have been avoided if they had simply let Randy Orton blade. This fucking company.

  5. James Fabiano says:

    “I mean, would you let a surgeon cut you with a scalpel instead of just opening you up with his bare hands?”

    Maybe New Jack should have used his bare hands on Mass Transit.

  6. Mr Forth says:

    This angle is really everything that was, & is wrong with WWE, so it’s no surprise it was Lesnar’s nuke the fridge.

  7. Jay says:

    The build up to it was hard to believe also. In one corner, you had a guy who just won a legit MMA fight (before the no contest change). In the other corner, you had a wrestler who hadn’t competed in nearly 10 months.

    Rumor has it that for agreeing to this match and getting busted open the way he did, Orton would be promised a WWE title run within the next year.

  8. Sam Sweeney says:

    On the one hand, Brock getting out of this match was good because no one wanted to see Shane fight Brock. On the other hand it gave us the return of Goldberg which also lead to Goldberg beating Kevin Owens and The Fiend for no reason and also gave us Goldberg vs Undertaker AKA one of the worst matches of all time. So maybe Brock/Shane would have been better in the long run.

    • Thomas Moffatt says:

      It also led to Drew v Goldberg. Whilst this is not gooker or WC worthy it deserves a dishonourable mention because Drew was forced to go on RAW after the Royal Rumble and waffle on about gOldberg earning his respect. Despite the match being on two and a half minutes long and Goldberg only using two maneuvers (granted the spear was recycled). I still feel the Goldberg Title Run last year was not only Wrestlecrap worthy but should have been on the list for Gooker nomination…

    • M says:

      Otoh, Lesnar apparently requesting to work with Goldberg and ultimately pushing Jericho/Owens aside was what caused Jericho to leave (as multiple people had said that without Jericho, AEW might’ve never happened)

      • Thomas Moffatt says:

        Further evidence that Vince lost the plot long ago…

        There was a rumour Lesnar is “active” in WWE which is not good for anyone. i wish WWE would stop pandering to the Lesnar’s and Goldberg’s of the world…

  9. Justin Ballard says:

    God, I hate this company.

  10. Ripplin says:

    What’s the deal with that urine test picture? Can’t remember that and dunno whose head that is under Brock’s.

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